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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Rwanda, U.N. Doc. A/49/18, paras.53-72 (1994).






53. In view of reports of ethnic conflict in Rwanda, the Committee decided at its forty-first session to request, in accordance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention, further information from the Government of Rwanda on that conflict and on its implications for the implementation of the Convention in Rwanda, in particular the provisions of article 5 (b). No written reply was received in response to that request. At its 1027th meeting, on 9 March 1994, the Committee reviewed the implementation of the Convention in Rwanda.

54. The representative of the State party pointed out that since 5 January 1994 Rwanda had been facing a constitutional crisis, a result of the unwillingness of party leaders to share power as stipulated in the Arusha Peace Agreement of August 1993. The representative expected that his Government would consider seriously the report of the Committee, following its pattern of always cooperating with the United Nations. He also stated that efforts were being made to draft a report on the situation in Rwanda which would be submitted to the Committee as early as possible.

55. Members of the Committee discussed the origins of the ethnic conflicts taking place in Rwanda and noted that the attempts to form a power-sharing government had become deadlocked. Doubt had been cast by critics as to the good faith of the President for delaying the formation of the new government, and on the willingness of the President to accept State obligations as prescribed by international law. Members also noted that both politics and ethnicity carried significant weight in the conflict; the Rwandanese Patriotic Front, though seen as an ethnically based, Tutsi-led organization, had a Hutu president.

56. Members of the Committee wished to learn from the representative of Rwanda what follow-up had been given to the Arusha Peace Agreement; what actions had been taken with respect to the findings of the international commission of inquiry into human rights violations, organized by a group of non-governmental organizations, which held the army, the administration, and the judiciary responsible for the deterioration of the situation; what steps had been taken by the Government to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice; what was the involvement of militias attached to political parties in human rights violations and were such activities restricted in any way; whether the "ethnic quota" system which allocated posts to members of ethnic groups was limiting access by Tutsis to posts in teaching and the public service; whether the ethnic based identity card system had been abolished, and whether the Twa minority were still being treated as second class citizens.

57. In his reply, the representative of the State party noted that the hope of peace that the Arusha Peace Agreement embodied had been dashed by the egoism of certain political leaders who were unable to agree on a compromise. The bickering of these leaders had led to delay in the establishment of the transitional institutions and thus to a political vacuum when the coalition government disbanded on 5 January 1994. However, he still believed that the Arusha agreement had provided answers to all the Committee's concerns, and could be implemented if the international community exerted pressure on the political leaders.

58. With reference to the findings of the non-governmental organization international commission of inquiry, the representative stated that the President and the Prime Minister had issued a declaration of intent to implement the commission's recommendations. The representative stated that the ethnic quota system had been disbanded in June 1991 with the advent of the multiparty system. He also stated that the Twa were being integrated through various programmes and were not treated as second class citizens. It had been decided to revoke the system of identity cards based on ethnicity, but owing to the political vacuum that decision had not been implemented. The groups described as militia were the youth branches of various parties.

59. In response to the representative's attribution of responsibility to the political leaders, the members of the Committee asked the representative to comment on the President's refusal to attend a joint working meeting to overcome the political impasse and on the possibility that the President was undermining the principle of the peace agreement by refusing to retreat from a posture that would inevitably lead to war.

60. The representative claimed that such accusations were unfair, for, unlike the other party leaders, the President had taken his oath under the new transitional government and had formally agreed to implement the Arusha Peace Agreement. The representative had no objection to the proposal to bring Rwanda together in a forum with other regional actors, but denied that Rwanda had any role in the recent coup d'├ętat in Burundi or in the subsequent violence there.

Concluding observations

61. At its 1039th meeting, on 17 March 1994, the Committee adopted the following concluding observations.

(a) Introduction

62. It is regretted that the Government of Rwanda did not submit the further information which had been requested by the Committee. However, it is appreciated that a delegation was present to respond to the questions and comments of Committee members.

(b) Principal subjects of concern

63. Concern is expressed over the failure of the Government to identify and punish those responsible for the ethnically motivated murders that have taken place in Rwanda. The resulting impunity of the perpetrators has encouraged a continuation of serious human rights violations which, in turn, have undermined attempts to re-establish the rule of law.

64. While the signing, in August 1992, of the Protocol of Agreement on the Rule of Law is welcomed, concern is expressed over the delay in forming a power-sharing government and that many of the provisions have not yet been implemented, particularly articles 15 and 16 which call for the establishment of a national commission of inquiry responsible for monitoring human rights violations, and the creation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations committed during the armed conflict.

65. Concern is also expressed over the state of the system of criminal justice, including the judiciary, which has not discharged its functions either independently or effectively. The poor conditions to which detainees are subjected will not make resolution of the conflict any easier.

(c) Suggestions and recommendations

66. The Committee strongly recommends that decisive steps be taken immediately at the international level, through the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and at the regional and national levels, to break the vicious cycle of ethnic violence and atrocities that continues in Rwanda. To that end, the Committee supports the full implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement and the associated protocols, particularly concerning the rule of law.

67. The ethnic conflict in Rwanda is paralleled by a conflict in Burundi involving members of the same two groups. It is doubtful whether one State can resolve the conflict within its borders unless the conflict in the subregion is resolved.

68. The Committee recommends that major reform of the judiciary be undertaken and stresses that adequate legal safeguards must be put in place to ensure the security of members of all ethnic communities and their access to effective judicial recourse.

69. The Committee strongly urges that a determined effort be made to bring an end to the impunity of perpetrators of ethnically motivated massacres and other racially based human rights violations that have ravaged the country. In this connection, the Committee emphasizes that investigation, prosecution and punishment must be undertaken to restore confidence in the rule of law and also as an indication of resolve that a recurrence of those crimes will not be tolerated. To that end, steps should be taken immediately at the international level to investigate the crimes against humanity which have been committed in Rwanda and to collect systematically evidence which could eventually be submitted to an international tribunal with competence on this question.

70. The Committee recommends that the Government of Rwanda request technical assistance from the Centre for Human Rights in all aspects of strengthening democratic institutions and promoting respect for human rights, with the possible assistance of one or more members of the Committee. Such assistance would be useful particularly with respect to legislative and judicial reform, the training of law enforcement officials, the establishment of a national institution for the protection of human rights and the development of education programmes aimed at encouraging inter-ethnic tolerance and understanding.

(d) Further action

71. In accordance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention, the Committee requests further information from the State party on measures taken to implement the provisions of the Convention in the light of the concluding observations adopted by the Committee at its forty-fourth session. The State party is requested to provide that information by 30 June 1994 so that it may be considered by the Committee at its forty-fifth session.

72. At its 1045 meeting (forty-fifth session), on 3 August 1994, the Committee gave further consideration to the situation in Rwanda (see sect. B below).



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